The Role of the Business Plan Writer in the Regional Center Context



by

Joseph Whalen










Folks have different views of the significance of the EB-5 Business Plan as well as the duties and functions of the writer of that Plan. More than one approach is valid. This brief essay will discuss one of them. This is just one man's view and is subject to change.



I see the Business Plan (BP) as a foundational document. It encompasses the key aspects underlying the "kind(s) of commercial enterprise(s) that will receive capital from alien" as per 610(a) (Appropriations Act of 1993) [8 USC 1153 Note]. As discusses previously in a separate essay[1] , such BP might be either an archetype BP used in the request for designation as a Regional Center (RC), or it may be a Matter of Ho[2] -compliant BP for a Specific Project.


Regardless of variety and purpose, any decent BP will be based on an accepted industry standard. This means that certain parameters or data sets and/or categories[3] will be used to construct the BP. In other words, most BPs may be based on a common outline or series of headings that help to organize the major components that are used in most BPs. While there are common structural components for a basic BP, there is not likely to ever be an across-the-board, fill-in-the-blank, "cookie-cutter" template for general use in EB-5 or anywhere else. This means that the Regional Centers need to hire a professional technical writer who can craft Matter of Ho-compliant BPs. All RC investors and MOST stand-alone investors will eventually need a compliant BP. Here is what Matter of Ho has to say about the necessary part of the plan:


..To be "comprehensive,"
a business plan must be sufficiently detailed to permit the Service to draw
reasonable inferences about the job-creation potential. Mere conclusory
assertions do not enable the Service to determine whether the job-creation
projections are any more reliable than hopeful speculation.



A comprehensive business plan as contemplated by the regulations
should contain, at a minimum, a description of the business, its products
and/or services, and its objectives. The plan should contain a market
analysis, including the names of competing businesses and their relative
strengths and weaknesses, a comparison of the competition's products
and pricing structures, and a description of the target market/prospective
customers of the new commercial enterprise. The plan should list the
required permits and licenses obtained. If applicable, it should describe
the manufacturing or production process, the materials required, and the
supply sources. The plan should detail any contracts executed for the
supply of materials and/or the distribution of products. It should discuss
the marketing strategy of the business, including pricing, advertising, and
servicing. The plan should set forth the business's organizational structure
and its personnel's experience. It should explain the business's
staffing requirements and contain a timetable for hiring, as well as job
descriptions for all positions. It should contain sales, cost, and income
projections and detail the bases therefor.FN4 Most importantly, the business
plan must be credible.


Certainly no astute investor would place half a million or a million
dollars into a business that he had not thoroughly researched. Creating a
comprehensive business plan as described above is normal practice for
any businessman seeking to operate a viable business." Ho at 213.



FN4-The Service recognizes that each business is different and will require different information in its business plan. These guidelines, therefore, are not all-inclusive.


Most have seen the above excerpt before but have you ever dissected it? Let's do just that. In order to comply with Matter of Ho, and keeping in mind the proviso of footnote 4, the BP writer's challenge is as follows. Produce a BP that accomplishes as much of the following as is feasible and as is necessary but which is precisely tailored to the type of project [4] contemplated within the desired industry category sought or already approved for the Regional Center and sourced to the defined geographic area encompassed by the Regional Center.




  1. The RC, your own economist, and USCIS will all need to be able to draw "reasonable inferences" from the BP about the job-creation potential.
  2. A comprehensive business plan as contemplated by the regulations should contain, at a minimum:


    • a description of the business,
    • its products and/or services, and
    • its objectives.

  3. The plan should contain:

    • a market analysis, including:

      • the names of competing businesses and
      • their relative strengths and weaknesses,


    • a comparison of the competition's:

      • products and
      • pricing structures, and

    • a description of the target market/prospective customers.

  4. The plan should list:

    • The required permits and licenses obtained.
    • If applicable, it should describe:

      • the manufacturing or production process,
      • the materials required, and
      • the supply sources.



  5. The plan should detail any contracts executed for:

    • The supply of materials and/or
    • the distribution of products.

  6. It should discuss the

    • marketing strategy of the business,
    • including

      • pricing,
      • advertising, and

      • servicing.


  7. The plan should set forth the business's:

    • organizational structure and
    • its personnel's experience.

  8. It should explain the business's:

    • staffing requirements and
    • contain a timetable for hiring, as well as
    • job descriptions for all positions.

  9. It should contain:


    • sales,
    • cost, and
    • income projections, and
    • detail the bases therefor.

  10. Most importantly, the business plan must be credible.

Wow! That is a tall order. However, by approaching it systematically and incrementally, you will find that it is not insurmountable after all. Good Luck!







1 http://www.slideshare.net/BigJoe5/taking-on-the-eb5-communitys-confusion-about-exemplars



2Matter of Ho, 22 I&N Dec.206 (AAO 1998)



3Different industries require different resources. Do you need corn for ethanol or iron ore for smelting and shipbuilding, or plastic parts pressed in China to be assembled in a Tennessee toy and other "junk-brand" products (plastic utensils, cups, and plates) assembly plant?



4"Kind of commercial enterprise that will receive capital from aliens" seeking EB-5 visas






About The Author




Joseph Whalen is not an attorney. He is a former government employee who is familiar with the INA. His education is in Anthroplogy with a concentration in Archaeology and has both a BA (from SUNY Buffalo) and an MA (from San Francisco State University) in Anthroplogogy. He previously worked as an Archaeologist for the U.S. Forest Service before becoming an Adjudicator with INS which became USCIS.






The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) alone and should not be imputed to ILW.COM.